We all know Henry Kissinger as a brilliant, yet divisive figure of American Foreign Politics. He was a bright mind with a first row seat during the great events of the Cold War. Probably less known is the drama of his flight from his home town Furth, to escape Nazi-Germany. After some detours he arrived in New York, together with many other Jews. We join the young Kissinger on his trip; from… Read More

Highly original article on the rise of Trumpism – taking us back to Hunter S. Thompsons’s book on motorcycle guys. The ethics of the Hell’s Angels is still alive; and widespread.

Donald Trump doet liever niet aan zelfreflectie. Hij zou dan weleens, zo zegt hij zelf,’iets onaangenaams tegen kunnen komen.’ In ieder geval zou de introspectie van Amerika’s nieuwe president leiden tot een gespleten beeld. Trump is ogenschijnlijk zeer consequent inconsequent. Zo pleitte hij eens op Capitol Hill voor een inkomstenbelasting tot 60% voor rijke mensen, niet lang nadat Reagan deze naar 31%  had verlaagd. Dat zou hij nu niet meer zo snel doen…. Read More

Entertaining film with great actors (Jeff Bridges!) adding a moral dimension to the well-know topic of bank-robbers-on-the-run-for-a-sheriff-on-the-brink-of-retirement’. A must see, not in the least because of the renewed interest in small town, rural America (i.e. Texas). Hell or High Water – David Mackenzie (2016) ****

Strong ‘rags to riches’ story, very funny at times, but above all a cultural critique of white, working-class America. The author, J.D. Vance, a hillbilly himself, describes their increasingly marginalized social position through the unlikely, mostly miserable, lives of his own family. An important book to better understand modern America. Also read this great interview with J.D. Vance

An ambitious film on a great topic and beautiful scenery, but it wants to tell too many stories and depends to a large extent on the charisma and performance of Matthew McConaughey alone. Moreover, it makes emotions and events too explicit, as often is the case with American films (although the producers seem to be Chinese). Although this fascinating episode in US history had deserved a better script and, above all, tougher choices, the… Read More

Understanding Trump by George Lakoff A lot has  being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have… Read More

Dit boekje belooft ‘alles over de Amerikaanse verkiezingen’, wat enigszins overdreven is. Wel is het een leuk en nuttig overzicht van de smerigste campagnes (de allersmerigste is die van 1856), slimste leuzen (de beste: I Like Ike), zwakste running mates (natuurlijk Dan Quayle) en beste presidenten (FDR). Voor Amerika lovers. 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – Paul Brill (2012)

Interesting Politico piece arguing we don’t really care about the truth, the reason why so many politicians get away with lies. We are inclined to believe them unless we have a previous reason not to believe them. It’s all about cognitive dissonance. Related, some insight on whether the Republican party will survive the Donald.

As this New Yorker article by Dexter Filkins (author of the great book The Forever War) argues, it should’t surprise anyone that no politician in charge in the last 10 years, Republican or Democrat, isn’t compromised by the chaotic American involvement in Iraq. Claiming that State Secretary Hillary Clinton stood by while events unravelled is as un-factual as blaming George W. Bush for all things gone wrong. As always, reality is nuanced – a difficult… Read More

Ian Bremmer is the new star of international relations, his book is clever, easy to read and has a clear concept. We  live in a wold where no G-20, G-3, G-8 has the power to push through decisions. We are all on our own and should prepare for wheeling and dealing with our neighbours on a permanent basis.

Hilarious account of Congressman Charlie Wilson, who together with CIA operative Gus Avraktos, creates an ever expanding program to support the Afghan Mujahideen – back in the days when the Soviets were fighting in Afghanistan. This story proves that reality is more surprising than our imagination.